Making Social Media Pay Off For Your Small Business

Social media has infiltrated nearly every corner of our lives, and business is no exception. A 2017 Pew Research study showed nearly seven out of 10 Americans are active on social media. This built-in audience has prompted roughly nine out of 10 U.S. companies to employ social media to promote their businesses and interface with customers.

But simply having a social media presence may not be enough to translate posts into profits. Savvy businesses realize that there is an art and a science to successful social media usage. Here’s a look at five ways you can maximize your social reach and messaging.

Set Specific Goals

To be effective, social media should always support a strategic goal. Such goals should include customer acquisition, increased website traffic, improved customer service and increased consumer engagement, to name a few. Perhaps one of the greatest objectives is increased and solidified brand loyalty. A study by American Express reported 62 percent of millennials polled said they were inclined to only ever buy a preferred brand, and that social media engagement is key for cementing that brand loyalty. Once you determine your specific objectives, work backward to be sure your posts align with your goals.

Pick the Right Platforms

After your goals are outlined, use the various platforms at your disposal judiciously. Consider these facts:

  • Facebook continues to lead the pack with 1.65 million monthly users and is used by 64 percent of Americans ages 12 and up.
  • Fifty million businesses use Facebook pages with 32 percent of users engaging regularly with brands.
  • Twitter has 310 million active users and 42 percent of users say they learn about brands and products via the social network.
  • Instagram is one of the five most-used apps with 68 percent of users engaging with brands regularly.
  • Instagram’s 400 million monthly users are more than twice as likely to click on ads compared to users of other social media platforms.

The trick then becomes balancing your social presence between these powerhouses, while not necessarily ruling out other platforms such as LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest. Determine where to invest your time and advertising dollars based on the following two criteria:

  1. Your demographic. Research your target market’s social media usage. For example, a business that targets a population of 25 years old and younger, may wish to minimize its use of Facebook, which only captures nine percent of users between ages 18-24.
  2. Your business type. All platforms may not be equally suited for every business. For example, photographers, designers, travel businesses and those with high visual appeal tend do well on Instagram and Pinterest. Those companies whose business-to-business relationships are crucial should try to cultivate a LinkedIn presence.

While it can appear to be a smart idea to post across all networks to reach the most users, focus the majority of your time and paid advertising on the one or two that host the lion’s share of your target market.

Be Consistent With Content

A consistent look and voice is essential for presenting a clear brand identity. From color scheme to tag lines, your company’s social media pages should be visually cohesive. Moreover, your messaging must walk a fine line between being consistent without being redundant. Try not to craft content for Facebook and then copy and paste it to the remaining platforms. Instead, keep the core of your message consistent while allowing the confines of the medium to dictate the post. You need photos for Instagram, long posts for LinkedIn, videos and memes for Facebook and short and snappy announcements for Twitter. All of your posts should be different, even if they are delivering the same message,” explains entrepreneur Timothy Sykes.

Be Strategic About Engagement

Ideal times to engage with your followers will vary from business to business, but luckily a plethora of analytics exist to help you pick the right times that work for you. For example, on Facebook, posts between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays are said to be optimal, while Twitter posts are cited as most successful Monday through Friday at 12 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Services like HootSuite and Buffer, which allow you to manage your social media from one source, provide helpful analytics tailored to your business so you can get the most ROI for your efforts.

Connect Authentically

No matter how much research, branding, data and strategy you put into social media, nothing speaks louder than an authentic voice. “Authentic social media is the modern day testimonial: It can allow users to interact with businesses in real time and also creates an open space for conversation and feedback,” according to Forbes. In this sense, social media has become a customer service portal, where responses are immediate, personal and transparent. Research from J.D. Power suggests that 67 percent of consumers have used social media to address service concerns. Apart from customer service, still seek a two-way street. Ask questions, take feedback and share helpful content — even if it doesn’t directly relate to selling your products or services. Stay true to your brand’s unique voice and personality, while showing genuine interest in your audience, and you’ll reinforce your business’s consistency while earning loyalty and trust.

About the Author

Stacey Kole is a principal director at Branded, a personal and small business branding agency. A former magazine editor and published author, she currently contributes to the online editions of several publications. She is the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, working to build scholarship funds for young women in the state of Arizona.


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